As a designer who’s made a name for herself with her evocative, symbolic hand-enameled jewels, Cece Fein-Hughes faces an interesting challenge. Her bespoke-jewelry clients want to pack all the elements of their lives, meaningful signs and all, onto the small surface of a signet ring or pendant. The founder of Cece Jewellery has to remind them that she’s playing with a space the size of a grain of rice for each drawing.
“People have the craziest ideas, and it’s a bit like I become a therapist, going through emails and phone calls about their life and their story,” she muses.
Her dedication to interpreting her clients’ wildest dreams has translated into loyal customers and legions of online fans. The British jeweler’s creations stem from two distinct sources of inspiration that come together harmoniously: tattoos and fairy tales.
“I’m obsessed with old-school sailor tattoos,” she shares. “I just love the swallows and horns with the arrows through them. It’s quite kitsch and tacky in a really fun way. And then I merged that with fairy tales that are very English and very spooky, which remind me of where I grew up in Dartmoor, in Devon, which is very Wuthering Heights.”
Horseclip hoops and Sweetheart charms in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds. (Cece Jewellery)
These talismanic jewels have worked magic for her business, which is a family affair: Fein-Hughes’s father is the company’s manager after a career in construction, her mother helps with the creative side, and her sister has just joined.
Cece Jewellery launched two years ago with a GBP 40,000 ($51,000) seed investment and has since grown over 6,000% in terms of sales — from GBP 14,000 ($18,000) to GBP 960,000 ($1.2 million), with revenue projected to reach GBP 2 million ($2.5 million) this year. The creations, all handcrafted by goldsmiths in London’s Hatton Garden district, are available at luxury vendors Net-a-Porter, Liberty London, and Goop.
Love Pendulum pendant in 18-karat gold with champlevé enamel, diamonds, ruby and sapphire. (Cece Jewellery)
The brand has also entered the US market and is selling at stores known for their edgier curation: Catbird in New York, and Twist on the west coast.
Fein-Hughes now faces the issue that most successful companies must confront: how to retain her brand identity while growing and scaling her business. Another obstacle has to do with her signature enamel style; she only has one enameling artisan she trusts to produce work of the highest standards.
As a result, she is shifting her collections toward new models that aren’t enamel-reliant, such as chunky bombé-style gold rings with diamond- or sapphire-set stars, and versatile charm earrings that let the wearer write their own story — which is, after all, at the core of Cece Jewellery’s DNA.
Clam & Pearl signet ring in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds, pearl and enamel. (Cece Jewellery)
This article is from the July-August 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.
Main image: Cece Fein-Hughes. (Cece Jewellery)